Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I get it, everyone! Ryan Gosling is a good-looking man.

I know this because A) I have two eyeballs in my head, which I use to look at things, and to then surmise said things into little piles labeled “Hot” and “Not”, and B) every article, review or interview with Gosling, no matter how brief, MUST CONTRACTUALLY (through a contract with the universe) state how good-looking Ryan Gosling is. Gosling has been called The Gallagher of Acting, as a “splash zone” for ladies must be established around his perimeter. (Sorry, mom)

With all this oohing and ahhing over the guy, it should be easy to hate on him. But his solid acting chops and aw-shucks Canadian demeanor put him in that rarest of Natalie Portman-esque camps: the Unfairly Attractive and Talented People Who Also Try To Be Actively Be Decent Human Beings And Annoyingly Seem To Have Their Life Together.
R-Gos, of course, caught the eye of America playing the lead role in The Notebook, the story of a man who cruelly tormented his Alzheimer-suffering wife night after night by reminding them how happy they were before she became ill. Then it was onto Lars And The Real Girl, playing a man who has a chaste relationship with a sex doll. You can watch a clip of it here:

Now, several years later, he opens two movies within just weeks of each other, The Ides Of March and Drive. Will they keep the Gosling name flying high? Or will these projects sink to Ryan Reynolds depths? Let’s find out!

Did you know that Washington and politics has the power to corrupt people? It’s true! In The Ides Of March (the title taken, of course, from an Iron Maiden song) R-Gossy plays the campaign manager of presidential hopeful George Clooney, because if you are a strong-featured man running for public office, you need someone equally crotch-soaking to run your internal affairs.

Gosling’s mentor is Philip Seymour Hoffman. The rival campaign manager is played by Paul Giamatti. IT IS THE GREAT SAD-SACK ACTOR-OFF OF OUR TIME! I cannot BELIEVE they did not give these two more than a few paltry minutes of screen time together. That was the Alien Vs. Predator for doughy character actors, and they blew by it. Strike two, movie! (Strike one is the terrible title, although the movie is based on the play Farragut North, so it’s at step up from that, I guess.)
In a secret one on one meeting, Giamatti tries to convince Gosling to work for his candidate. And although Gos-Gos is all “Nuh-Uh!” to the idea, going to secret meetings with the heads of your opposition is apparently frowned upon, and our boy Gossy is in deep trouble.

I generally like “inside the War Room” style movies, and although everyone is certainly Acting with a capital “A”, (as opposed to ACTING with all capital letters, like Nicholas Cage), it all feels like the 10,000,000th time we have been told that to Get Ahead in Washington, you gotta play dirty. This story is also supposed to take place over the span of about three days, but Goslings transformation goes from gee-wizz brightest boy in the room to cold, manipulative robot face so quickly, it’s almost comical.
At least in movies like The Candidate or A Face In The Crowd, you have a sense of slow dread that takes over the tone of the film, and creates and excitement of suspense. Watching The Ides Of March, you feel the actors are just waiting to give their big speechy speech that actors love speeching.

Now, onto Drive!

The movie doesn’t give Goslings character a name, so let’s just call him Drive.
“I drive”, says Drive. You sure do, Drive! When we first meet him, he is driving some robbers to their robbery. The police almost catch Drive, but he is too good at driving, and out-drives them.
We also find out he drives stunt cars for the movies. “Great driving!” says Walt Cranston, his driving coach. Then Drive eats three cars for dinner, and listens to “She Drives Me Crazy” on the radio. Then he watches his favorite Pixar movie…no, not Cars! It is Monsters, Inc. Drive is a three-dimensional character, people!

Drive doesn’t say too much while all this is going on, as Drive is a mysterious person who can be trusted to keep his mouth shut with all the criminal goings on. It is also easier for him to maintain his pretty pretty face at all times if stupid things aren’t coming out of it.
Drive’s next store neighbor is a young, a-dorable lady who has a even more a-dorable son. Seriously, the only way to get this kid more adorable is to knock out one of his front teeth, and make him say “p’saghetti”.
The young lady and Drive start getting sweet on each other, awww. But the young lady’s husband (GULP) is coming home from prison soon! (GULP GULP) My guess is that the husband is going to be none too happy about Drive hanging around, as any man would start getting a bit nervous if Ryan Gosling was suddenly smiling at their wife.
Adding to Drive’s stress, Coach Breaking Bad is buying him a racecar to start a legit driving career with mob money funds. UH OH, I HOPE THESE TWO DISPARATE WORLDS DO NOT COLLIDE! (They do)

On paper, this whole movie must’ve sounded so slight.
(I can’t imagine the script seemed any denser.

Full disclosure, I love this kind of highly stylized, borderline dream-state kind of movie.
I have heard plenty of people complaining that the movie is too music-video like, or indulgently paced, and it certainly has moments of both those things. But Drive (the movie, not the fake name of Gosling that I made up) is best if you just let yourself have a sensory experience. You get lulled into tranquil states, and are jolted out of them when violent forces enter the picture. It is also unbelievably beautiful to look at. Can we get the guy who shot this to shoot everything? The garbage looks pretty! Ron Pearlman looks like a delicious marbleized steak! Gosling’s jacket looks like the coolest jacket in the world! But please don’t buy it! If you do, it's going to be like when you wore a Han Solo vest to school, and instead of everyone treating you like you were an interstellar rouge, they stole your Almond Joy bar.

Is Ryan Gosling the past of Robert Redford, sent to the future? Maybe! We can only wait and see. At…THE MOVIES!